Coronavirus (COVID-19) baby, toddler, and young child FAQs: Medical experts answer your questions

Coronavirus (COVID-19) baby, toddler, and young child FAQs: Medical experts answer your questions

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Every hour it seems the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brings new changes to our lives. Moms and dads like you are concerned about everything from breastfeeding safety, finding formula and other basic supplies to balancing work and unexpected childcare demands. But worry about disruptions to day-to-day life take a back seat to your primary concern: your health and the impact of COVID-19 on your baby, toddler, or young child.

We asked the noted pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics Wellness Center, and the doctors at the American Academy of Pediatrics your questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19). Here's what they had to say.

How concerned should we be about contracting COVID-19?

Currently, if you're living in the United States, it's possible that you or anyone in your family could be exposed to the new coronavirus. Your risk of being exposed to the virus is directly related to the rate of transmission in your immediate community. Cases of COVID-19 and community spread are being reported in all states and are expected to increase as the outbreak expands. You can keep tabs on where COVID-19 is spreading by checking the New York Times map and your local news coverage. mapodile

What should I do if someone in my family has symptoms?

If you or anyone in your family is experiencing fever, cough, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, loss of sense of smell or taste, or shortness of breath, have that person stay home and contact a doctor. If possible, the person should limit contact with the rest of the family – staying in a specific room, wearing a face mask around other people, and using a separate bathroom. The doctor may ask the person to stay home, monitor their symptoms, and call if they worsen.

If the doctor wants the person to come in for evaluation, the provider's office will have them take steps to limit their exposure to other patients. The doctor will determine if the person should get tested (if a test is available). The person should limit contact with others (self-quarantine) until the test results come back.

What should I do if someone in my family gets COVID-19?

If someone in your family tests positive for COVID-19, and they're not sick enough to be hospitalized, they can recover at home. They should follow their doctor's instructions and isolate themselves at home until their doctor believes the risk of transmission to others is low.

If symptoms worsen and you need to call 911, notify the dispatcher that the person may have COVID-19.

Emergency warning signs to watch for include:

  • Difficulty breathing, lips or face turning blue
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Confusion or unresponsiveness

What factors increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19?

According to the CDC, high-risk groups include:

  • Older people (particularly those over age 60)
  • Anyone with severe underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.

I'm just getting over another illness. Are there any special precautions I should take?

If you've been sick, you may be more susceptible. So be especially careful to follow the precautions that will help you avoid exposure: Stay home, avoid contact with others, and wash your hands frequently.

Should I or my family members wear a face mask?

Since people can be contagious without symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC is currently recommending that everyone over the age of 2 years old wear non-surgical face masks or other cloth face coverings in public settings, such as supermarkets or pharmacies, where it's not always possible to maintain social distancing measures. See our article on how to get your child to wear a mask.

It's important to note that children under 2 and any person who cannot remove the mask on their own should not wear one.

How at risk is my newborn for COVID-19?

There's no evidence that children are more susceptible than other people. In fact, most confirmed severe cases of COVID-19 are in adults. From the limited information we have from past coronavirus (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) outbreaks, serious infection among children was relatively uncommon.

We have very little information on symptoms in children who have tested positive for COVID-19. Limited reports from China indicate that infected children tend to have mild cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Fatigue, nasal congestion, sore throat and gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and nausea, can also be symptoms. Recent CDC data shows a total of three confirmed COVID-19 deaths of children under the age of 14.

Reports of small clusters of COVID-19-exposed children and adolescents being admitted to intensive care units with acute multisystem inflammatory conditions have researchers working overtime to collect more data and fully understand causality.

Severe complications in children (such as acute respiratory distress syndrome or septic shock) have also been reported, but they appear to be uncommon. Children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk, though.

Is breastfeeding still safe?

According to WHO live COVID-19 virus has not yet been detected in breastmilk. Based on current evidence the benefits outweigh the risk. We don't know for sure whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk. But in limited studies on women with COVID-19 as well as SARS-CoV, the virus has not been detected in breast milk. We do know that the flu is not spread through breast milk.

Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, you'll need to decide with your doctor whether to start or continue breastfeeding.

In any case, you'll want to take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to your baby, including washing your hands before touching your child and wearing a face mask while breastfeeding.

If you're pumping, wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts, and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone else feed your baby.

Should I let family members hold my baby, even if they're not sick?

Unless there is reason to believe someone has been exposed to the virus, there's no reason to quarantine them from your baby. Keep in mind that people can have COVID-19 without having symptoms, and they can also be contagious several days before experiencing symptoms. Of course, everyone in the house should practice everyday preventive actions, such as social distancing, to reduce their risk of getting sick and spreading illness:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you're sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wear a non-surgical face mask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles.

My mom was planning to fly here to help me care for my new baby after delivery. Should I tell her not to come?

Yes. If your mom is over 60 or has any serious chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes), she is at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and should avoid air travel. And keep in mind that any travel setting increases a person's risk of exposure and many states are advising all people who cross state lines to self-quarantine for 14 days. So, it may be risky to have her around the baby after she has been traveling.

For the most current advice on traveling, check the CDC's COVID-19 travel page.

Should I take my baby out in public?

Right now, the recommendation is to stay home as much as possible. For information on where the outbreaks are, see the New York Times map and your local news coverage.

Should I keep my baby away from anyone who has traveled recently, even if they aren't sick?

Probably. Any travel setting increases a person's risk of exposure. According to the CDC, anyone returning from an international location where there is widespread transmission should stay away from other people for 14 days. If someone has just come from an area in the U.S. where the disease is spreading, it's impossible to know what their level of exposure has been. If the person will be living in the house with you, they should take steps to avoid spreading possible illness to others.

My family member just got back from a cruise. Should I make them wait before they see my baby?

Yes. They should avoid contact with you or your baby for 14 days. Cruises put large numbers of people, often from countries around the world, in frequent and close contact with each other. This can promote the spread of respiratory viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. If the person will be living in the house with you, they should take steps to avoid spreading possible illness to others.

Should I delay well-child checks or scheduled vaccinations?

Check in with your pediatrician's office for their current advice on this. Timely well-child checkups and vaccinations are crucial to protecting your child's health. Some pediatricians' offices are taking measures to separate sick and well so that they can provide safe physical exams in a clean and disinfected space, whereas others are deferring nonessential visits or for now. Many offices are also offering telehealth visits for many issues and concerns. But ALL are continuing to provide immunizations on the recommended schedule, so don't delay these. Skipping these important shots could be even more risky to your child's health than exposure to COVID-19.

We were planning a trip this summer with the new baby. Should we cancel now?

It depends where you're planning to go and what the situation will be on the date you're planning to travel. A lot can happen in the next few weeks. We will see increases in cases and then a decline, as is happening in other countries. But it's impossible to know when the situation will calm. When you're closer to your travel date, check the CDC's travel recommendations for current information.

My baby is learning to crawl. What's the best way to keep her hands clean?

Keep your floors clean, vacuum frequently, don't wear outdoor shoes in the house, try to restrict your baby to crawling on mats or blankets that you can clean, and wash her hands often.

After my last pregnancy I had PPD. I'm afraid of being at home with a new baby with no support, due to social distancing. Is there anything I can do?

You're right to plan ahead to avoid or manage postpartum depression.

If you live in an area where the disease is spreading and you don't have a partner who can work from home or someone who can stay with you, you can use video chat and social media to stay in touch with your support network. You can also check in with a mental health provider by telemedicine or video visit.

Here's where to find a PPD support group. And you can always chat with moms about postpartum depression in the our site Community.

our site understands that the coronavirus pandemic is an evolving story and that your questions will change over time. We'll continue asking moms and dads in our Community what they want to know, and we'll get the answers from experts to keep them – and you – informed and supported.

our site News & Analysis is an assessment of recent news designed to cut through the hype and get you what you need to know.

Watch the video: Meet The Experts: How to Keep Your Infant Safe During COVID-19 (May 2022).

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